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Psycho (Universal Home Entertainment's 2-disc Legacy Series Special Edition DVD)

A movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock

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A Classic Hitchcock Tale And It's Sequels

  • Dec 28, 2010
To start off the review, let me quote from

Alfred Hitchcock's powerful, complex psychological thriller, Psycho (1960) is the "mother" of all modern horror suspense films - it single-handedly ushered in an era of inferior screen 'slashers' with blood-letting and graphic, shocking killings (e.g., Homicidal (1961), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Halloween 1978, Motel Hell (1980), and DePalma's Dressed to Kill (1980) - with another transvestite killer and shower scene). While this was Hitchcock's first real horror film, he was mistakenly labeled as a horror film director ever since.

Psycho also broke all film conventions by displaying its leading female protagonist having a lunchtime affair in her sexy white undergarments in the first scene; also by photographing a toilet bowl - and flush - in a bathroom (a first in an American film), and killing off its major 'star' Janet Leigh a third of the way into the film (in a shocking, brilliantly-edited shower murder scene accompanied by screeching violins). The 90-odd shot shower scene was meticulously storyboarded by Saul Bass, but directed by Hitchcock himself. The nightmarish, disturbing film's themes of corruptibility, confused identities, voyeurism, human vulnerabilities and victimization, the deadly effects of money, Oedipal murder, and dark past histories are realistically revealed. Its themes were revealed through repeated uses of motifs, such as birds, eyes, hands, and mirrors.

The master of suspense skillfully manipulates and guides the audience into identifying with the main character, luckless victim Marion (a Phoenix real-estate secretary), and then with that character's murderer - a crazy and timid taxidermist named Norman (a brilliant typecasting performance by Anthony Perkins). Hitchcock's techniques voyeuristically implicate the audience with the universal, dark evil forces and secrets present in the film.


Like many of Hitchcock's films, Psycho is so very layered and complex that multiple viewings are necessary to capture all of its subtlety. Symbolic imagery involving stuffed birds and reflecting mirrors are ever-present. Although it's one of the most frightening films ever made, it has all the elements of very dark, black comedy. This film wasn't clearly understood by its critics when released. Hitchcock admitted that Henri-Georges Clouzot's influential thriller Les Diaboliques (1955, Fr.) inspired his film.


And boy, was this film ever so popular in it's dark, gruesome, but non-gory representation of a boy who was raised by a mother in an unorthadox way that effected his mind in a big time way.  The film however, although it does show how nuts Norman Bates was because of his infamous mother that you never actually see during the film, does not depict HOW she raised him to the point of insanity.  This is where the sequels come in, and what was really interesting to me because I am the sort who desires to know the "why" of how events happen.

Although the sequels explain more about his childhood, which surely makes you understand why he turns into a nut, the original was fascinating with Hitchcock's way of filming, directing and leaving questions unanswered which only leads to the fascination of the classic horror movie.

The film being done in black and white, as explained by Scotman in his review, was a cheaper way of filming, and Hitchcock was brilliant to do so.  The ambiance of mystery you feel in this way of filming could never be captured in a full blown color version - just not possible.  The shower scene, although not gross or gory, was terrifying nontheless just by the notion of what was actually happening along with the music and blood going down the drain.  It did not terrify me as it did some people, but was equally mesmerizing because of what was missing; the gory details.  You do not actually see her being stabbed, but just knowing it was happening was enough to stop your heart.  Would it have had such an impact if not for the music and if it were gory?  NO!!  This is what makes this movie such a classic.

Anthony Perkin's performance could not have been better, and no other actor could have portrayed this part with such perfection - he was a simple enough looking character, with a laid back personality making the viewer completely unaware of what he was capable of; he was very unassuming in his role.  If an actor that looked more creepy had played the part, it could have been a dead giveaway and the mystery behind his psyche would have been left to the viewer and may have spoiled the whole point behind his deadly love for his over-bearing mother.

 PSYCHO II - 1983  - Directed by Richard Franklin

A sequel to one of the most popular horror films of all time, this psychological thriller received a pleasantly surprised, positive critical reception.Anthony Perkins returns as Norman Bates, who has just been released from an insane asylum after 22 years, having been judged clinically sane by the State of California over the objections of Lila Crane Loomis (Vera Miles), sister to one of Norman's murder victims. Norman returns home to the hotel and hilltop mansion he once inhabited with his mother. As a parole condition, Norman is hired at a local diner, where he struggles to join mainstream society, despite the stares of patrons aware of his past. At the diner, Norman befriends Mary (Meg Tilley), a waitress, and it seems that he may be putting some semblance of a life back together. But then Norman begins to experience hallucinatory encounters with his long-dead mother, including a handwritten note, a phone call, and a sighting of her standing at her favorite window. Is Norman's psychosis manifesting itself again, or are old enemies attempting to drive him back into an institution? As the pressure mounts, bodies pile up, and Norman's fragile hold on normality becomes more and more tenuous. 

I was unsure how this sequel would be; afterall, the classic could not be beat, but I was surprised that this one was intriguing as well, although of course it did not have the same mystery and ambiance as Hitchcoock's original.  He LOOKS sane, he ACTS sane, but Mom just won't go away!!


PSYCHO III - 1986 - Directed by Anthony Perkins    

For his third outing as disturbed innkeeper Norman Bates, Anthony Perkins directed as well as starred in the thriller Psychoo III. This time out, Norman is still manning the desk at the Bates Motel, where he now has an assistant, Duane (Jeff Fahey), and a new long-term tenant, Maureen Coyle (Diana Scarwid). Maureen has been seeing Duane and has some issues to resolve in her life; she gave up her vows as a nun not long ago, and she isn't sure just how she feels about either spiritual or earthly matters. Norman takes an interest in Maureen, which may not be good for her long-term health -- after all, the last woman with the initials "M.C." who stayed in that room (and used the shower) met with a rather nasty fate.

Wow, Norman has fallen in love and he tries so hard -- but does he fail?  What will his new love interest see in him?  This was a pretty interesting sequel.  Even though you realize by now he will probably never be normal, it is still intriguing enough to keep your interest.

PSYCHO IV; THE BEGINNING - 1990 - Directed By Mick Garris

This third sequel to Alfred Hitcock's classic thriller was originally made for cable television and looks into murderous Norman Bates' traumatic past in hopes of explaining his need to kill.

This was actually my favorite sequel; it explains Norman's childhood in gruesome explicit detail and almost makes you feel sorry for poor Norman.  His mother, played by Olivia Hussey, is an attractive, obsessive and strange woman who lost her husband and wants only to be loved again...but by who?  This sequel is filled with sexual inuendoes between mother and son (Norman the child is played by Henry Thomas), and completely abnormal and strange events that lead Norman down the path of a psychopathic murderer.  When Mother gets a boyfriend, Norman becomes jealous, and is confused when he feels this strong emotion.  He sees what goes on between Mother and boyfriend, yet Mother still needs her son's affection all the same.  It's no damned wonder he grew up a lunatic!  This sequel is a must see if you are interested in finding out the torrid details of his childhood.


Gee, I'm sorry I didn't hear you in all this rain. Go ahead in, please.~

Nobody ever stops here anymore unless they've done that. There's no sense dwelling on our losses. We just keep on lighting the lights and following the formalities.~
Well the, uh, mattress is soft, and there's hangers in the closet and stationery with 'Bates Motel' printed on it, in case you want to make your friends back home feel envious.~
 A boy's best friend is his mother.~

Are you sure you wouldn't like to stay just a little while longer? Just for talk?~

Dirty night.~

Hate the smell of dampness, don't you? It's such a, I don't know, creepy smell.~

A hobby should pass the time, not fill it.~
I don't set a fancy table, but my kitchen's awful homey.~
Well,  a son is a poor substitute for a lover.~

 She might have fooled me, but she didn't fool my mother.~
A Classic Hitchcock Tale And It's Sequels A Classic Hitchcock Tale And It's Sequels A Classic Hitchcock Tale And It's Sequels A Classic Hitchcock Tale And It's Sequels

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March 31, 2011
Awesome job on this review!!! Loved it. Last year I got the entire Psycho saga on DVD. Wonderful films. The original is a classic. Sadly the strength of the first film tends to down play the sequels. Although the sequels are far from classic status, they fit the bill for cult classic wonderfully. Mr. Perkins was the glue that held all of these films together. Again, wonderful review. The Straw Man
April 23, 2011
Awww thank you Straw Man; and the entire saga on DVD sounds awesome-lucky you. I agree with you completely about the sequels also, and Perkins was perfect in the role for sure. Thank you for the read and the compliment.
December 30, 2010
WOW wonderful breakdown of all the films, I actually enjoyed all of them, even the remake [gasp].
December 30, 2010
Thank you Alex - and you really liked the remake?!?! (gasp) LOL Bless your heart.....
December 28, 2010
Oh yes! I feel so warm and fuzzy now! Very nice work with the research. Thanks, Brenda!
December 28, 2010
Well Woo this was a quickie LOL - I'm using a different browser and it messed me all up and it didn't come out the way it should have. Nonetheless, I got a chance to say a little about the sequels. Thanks for the inspire Woo!!
More Psycho reviews
review by . May 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     Contained within "Psycho" are images that are haunting to this day, and also at the time, quite violent. Considered one of the "greats" for its genre, Alfred Hitchcock's horror/thriller "Psycho" is a film that I just had to see. I am passionate about this genre, and I thought that perhaps this film could inspire me, little-by-little, to create real, top-notch suspense. That is exactly what it did; and the film is brilliant. I'm not as familiar as I should …
review by . October 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Story of a Boy and His Mother
When “Psycho” was first released in 1960, director Alfred Hitchcock took great pains to ensure the plot would remain unspoiled. He wouldn’t allow stars Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh to promote the film. Critics were not granted pre-release screenings. The trailer, at a lengthy six and a half minutes, featured not a single shot of the actual finished film, nor did it showcase its actors; it featured Hitchcock himself guiding us on a tour of the sets, all the while hinting – …
review by . January 04, 2011
Nobody knows how to make horror films anymore, it truly is a lost art. Now I would hardly consider myself an expert on the subject, but gone are the days of monsters, Hitchcock, and classic serial killers like Myers, Freddy, and Jason. Now, there exists nothing but crappy sequels and movies that are more focused on blood and guts than actual psychological terror. But back in the days of Hitchcock, there existed this one film, which redefined the horror genre, despite the fact that I don't think …
review by . July 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
  Psycho is a classic that you must see if you haven’t gotten around to it yet. If the ending hasn’t been ruined for you by someone’s big mouth, it will be sure to blow your mind.    This film was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be. I expected Psycho to be mildly outdated and cheesy, but it wasn’t at all. I am the type of person that laughs at horror films to the point that they may as well be relabeled “comedy.” I have never been able …
Quick Tip by . May 27, 2010
Loved this movie-Norman Bates is truly an unforgettable character.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
One of the ultimate horror films, just thinking of Norman Bates gives me the chills. Even in 2010 this film packs a chillfest.
Quick Tip by . November 02, 2009
Psycho is a shocker and will remain so. Hitchcock took a chance when he killed off his leading lady at the beginning of the film!
review by . February 25, 2005
Pros: An American Movie Classic; frightening; interesting; great story     Cons: Probably not interesting to those who don't like "old" films     The Bottom Line: This movie is a classic. If you've never seen Psycho, you really should.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. Before taking my Hitchcock class at The University of Alaska - Anchorage, the only Hitchcock film I had seen was The Birds. To …
review by . July 16, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
Even after more than 40 years, and even after having seen it so many times, I am still caught up in the tension which director Hitchcock develops so carefully. I am still shocked by the famous (infamous?) shower scene and by later moments in the Bates residence. It is thus a tribute to Hitchcock, his cast, and crew that this breakthrough retains its shock value after so many years. Hitchcock requires his audience to be especially alert to seemingly insignificant details as well as to playful insertions. …
review by . May 18, 2000
Pros: combining these releases, hard to pick - but the story line remains great     Cons: lost a little with the retelling of the tale :(     THAT WAS THEN 1960 .... The blood curling scream, the knife, the sound of water swirling down the drain, a shot to the drain, water and blood combined .... always the gurgling of the water slowly, slowly leaving the tub. One beautiful eye, staring into nothingness. Hauntingly eerie in stark black and white .....   …
About the reviewer
Brenda ()
Ranked #28
I love to read mysteries and thrillers; I am addicted to scary psychological thrillers and horror movies; "The Exorcist" and "Silence of the Lambs" being 2 of my favorites. I love … more
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About this movie


Psycho The movie poster for Psycho features a large image of a young woman in white underwear. The names of the main actors are featured down the right side of the poster. Smaller images of Anthony Perkins and John Gavin are above the words, written in large print, "Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho".
Theatrical release poster Directed by Alfred Hitchcock Produced by Alfred Hitchcock Written by Joseph Stefano Starring Anthony Perkins
Vera Miles
John Gavin
Janet Leigh Music by Bernard Herrmann Cinematography John L. Russell Editing by George Tomasini Studio Shamley Productions Distributed by 1960–1968:
Paramount Pictures
Universal Pictures Release date(s) June 16, 1960 (1960-06-16) Running time 108 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $806,947 Gross revenue $32 million Followed by Psycho II

Psycho is a 1960 American suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film is based on the screenplay by Joseph Stefano, who adapted it from the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The novel was based on the crimes of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein.[1]

The film depicts the encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who is in hiding at a motel after embezzling from her employer, and the motel's owner, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), and the aftermath of their encounter.[2]

Psycho initially received mixed reviews, but outstanding box office returns prompted a re-review which was overwhelmingly positive and led to four Academy Award nominations. Psycho is now considered one of Hitchcock's best films[3] and is highly praised as a work of cinematic art by international critics.[4] The film spawned two sequels, a prequel, a remake, and an unsuccessful television spin-off.

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Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Genre: Classics, Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: June 16, 1960
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Joseph Stefano, Robert Bloch
Runtime: 2hrs 0min
Studio: Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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